Födelse är inget annat än en början av döden. — Presenting iris-exploding nihility at the exact right density of ideation, their twisted limbs stabbing furiously through multiple portals in order to achieve an uncompromised signal Stockholm, Sweden-borne blackened death-crust band Encryptment achieve distinction in reaching for their own tastes and tendencies with prior restrictions stamped-out. Though their pupils are doubled in size in sight of the possibilities arriving, the aperture of this first full-length album is set much darker, a punishing rip far beyond now obsolete beginnings. The quartet’s long in development command of ‘Dödens Födsel‘ is in fact intimidating and dramatic to the point of conveying existential dread within a state of performative surety. Though their craft leans towards harrowing, downward-cast doomsaying this debut’ll be a great eye-pricking point of curious light for fans of death metal/hardcore punk in sophisticated abstraction, a brief yet charged brilliancy in mutation and a solid death metal spin otherwise.
Encryptment formed in 2015, a couple of years after their prior death metal band Bedlamite had proven confining in its stylistic focus. This time around their approach pulled freely from collective interests in various forms of extreme crust/hardcore punk, black metal and death metal. The results of their first handful of sessions was a quick yet effective EP (‘Suktar efter luft‘, 2015) which might’ve had at least some hints of Martyrdöd‘s early 2010’s dramatic gloom and Kvelertak‘s swinging affect in their periphery but the band’s own nigh bestial death metal pulse applied to tuneful applications of extreme crust-rock. Analyzing that first tape won’t do us much good since there’d been a long break between recordings as they’d put more time in, switched drummers and developed a proper demo (‘Mangel Från Söderort‘, 2019) where the neocrust influences were better developed, very well characterized in terms of the guitar work and boosted the general “tragic” tone of the tape. This nonetheless leaves us squarely in the dark as to what ‘Dödens Födsel‘ brings as they’ve built a far more menacing, death metal basis as their locus, leading with brutality first and eventually working in their hardcore punk/crust influences as the LP burns up quick.
The difficult thing to communicate to the album-skimming generalist extreme metal fan today is that there exists equal parts loudness and nuance to this experience which are not dictated by a certain exacting ratio of sub-genre signifiers, this is a proper fusion event which does not seek equal parts anything but the perfect set of angles for protestation and destruction. Encryptment‘s debut is arguably most notable for the songwriting they’ve managed in fusing elements of blackened death metal and punk which will satisfy both sides of the fence, or, kick down the “fence” altogether and make a spectacle of it… Yet, again, it’ll read as a solid Swedish death metal album at face value and take a few moments to sink in for most. Point being that there is far more to glean from the experience than typical “death-crust” aptitudes and flippant d-beaten black/death metal ideas, the punk influences are specifically integrated in sophisticated manner rather than the surface skimming dryness we’re accustomed to. This lands somewhere closer to Bombs of Hades‘ underrated work on ‘Death Mask Replica‘ if they’d been a bit more interested in Swedish black/death metal brutality and less in progressivity. There is an extra layer of serious, cruel yet hallucinatory madness which helps to characterize the experience here away from the usual stuff along these lines but some of this admittedly comes from the production values achieved between Necromorbus Studios (alongside Alan Douches‘ mastering) which expertly intensifies the brutality of it all.
You’ll get what I mean the moment you’ve ripped into the opener/title track and quickly recognize it as a proper kick-off for a thrashing Swedish death metal album, drums kicking at chest level guitars buzzing about like a million flies on a day old corpse (yet decidedly not using a dull Boss HM-2 fed sound), and vocals echoing a half-mile downward. From my point of view this has a sort of peak Tribulation and Necrovation era (’09-’13) swing to it, more than a step beyond post-‘Wolverine Blues‘ hardcore punk one might expect. Just as records like ‘Elddop‘ had a shade of rocking black/death swerve in their guitar work, so does this one though here the tension is quadrupled alongside the furor of the introductory moments, which are fleshed out by “Liens praktfulla dans”, the momentum-bearer and one of the more intricate feats on the record. The thread holds this pace for the first three songs, pivoting into the big unforgettable Side A clincher “Central Disharmoni”, a quick favorite of mine for its swaying introductory guitar progression and howling ‘Clandestine‘-isms which come in inspired bursts along the way.
From there the aforementioned “neocrust” influences hit slightly more prominent in the shaping of the next few songs as Side B re-establishes the tone of ‘Dödens Födsel‘ as pensive rather than punishing. The second half of the album experiments more, reaches for wilding and fevered riffs which escape the blur of speed by the time “Poisonous Salvation” rolls in, rounding the album out in an exceptionally dramatic piece which finally digs into those primal black/death metal coffers for a big out-of-body moment at apex. The album ends on a similarly charged yet ultimately wisened point with “Withered Hands”, summing the evolution found within this album while looping back to the start of the album at similar pace. This’d had me listening to the record 2-3 times in a row each time I’d picked it up, not only because it is a quick and only mildly demanding listen but because the immerse of its contortions could’ve gone on twice as long for my own taste.
Granted 80’s hardcore/crust punk influenced death metal is one of my favorite pursuits, a somewhat common feat which has only been done a handful of times with any proper insight into (and well, taste in) both realms. Encryptment achieve an affecting, alluring and imaginative trip here on their debut album, a vastly repeatable and slickly constructed thread which never feels blunted, repetitive, or lacking in ideas. It stands apart as an intense spectacle which the realm of extreme crust rarely receives and a death metal record which fans of the classic spectrum of the sub-genre will not only respect but enjoy for its finely detailed presentation and evocative riffcraft. A high recommendation.
|LABEL(S):||Nuclear Winter Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||November 11th, 2022|
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